The Samsung Galaxy Note smartphone in Seoul, South Korea.   Appl

Phone or Phablet: How Much Does (Over)Size Matter?

In late July, Sony announced the Xperia Z Ultra, a giant smartphone with a 6.3-inch display. Last week LG revealed the 5.2-inch LG G2. On August 9, The News Tribe reported on rumors that Nokia will release the 5+inch 1080 Nokia Lumia in the fall. IOS users shouldn’t feel left out—Reuters published an article in early July about a possible 5.7-inch iPhone. 

The increasing popularity of oversize phones begs an important question– what exactly separates a 6.3-inch smartphone from a 7-inch tablet?

As it turns out, not much. Phones are increasingly used for apps rather than for making calls and texting. Data collected by Business Insider showed that games, social networking, and entertainment account for nearly 80% of smartphone activity. Apps like Skype, Facetime and TextPlus have made it possible to call and text from just about any wireless-enabled device.  In many cases, phones and tablets are basically comparable in terms of form and function.

tablet-news.com
tablet-news.comEnter the phablet.

Enter the phablet.

The new quirky buzzword describes devices that fit into the intersection between expanding smartphones and shrinking tablets, defined by Techopedia as, “a device that combines smartphone and tablet features and is generally characterized by a stylus/pen input and classic phone features and capabilities.”

Phablets eliminate the redundancy of purchasing two devices that do basically the same thing. Displays are big enough to read and type on comfortably, but still small enough to fit into a purse or large pocket.

On the other hand, phablets are uncomfortably bulky to use as a phone—imaging holding a 6-inch phone up to your ear for more than a few minutes. While they’re bigger than traditional smartphones, phablets may not be large enough to leaf through a tablet magazine comfortably or read small print.

Regardless of their sometimes-awkward dimensions and goofy name, phablets have done well enough with consumers and reviewers that they seem unlikely to go away anytime soon. The most popular phablet to date has been the 5.2-inch Samsung Galaxy Note (now about to enter its third iteration), a surprise hit in 2011 that sold more than 10 million units.

It’s worth noting that a study released by app analytics firm Flurry in April showed that only 3% percent of active users were on phones with 5- to 6.9-inch displays.

The number of oversized devices announced this summer suggests that cell phone manufacturers are banking on that number going up in a major way.

Do you have a phablet you love or some pro or cons to offer about about a specific device?  Leave your feedback here!

Linda Gorman

Linda is a junior dual major studying information management and technology and magazine journalism. Find her on twitter @lggorman or at lindaggorman.com

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  • Rob

    I love my Galaxy Note 2. I can watch movies and surf the internet on a nice large screen.

  • Ruchita Agrawal

    Dear Linda, you are right. When it comes to choose beetween phone or phablet, many people care about size. But I think perfect screen size is around 4.7 to 5.2, to fit best in hand. I love my HTC one, as it has 4.7 inch display. After finding about launch of 5.2 inch LG g2, I searched on internet, and found there are some special features other than display size, that may lure me to go for LG g2. I love all the features shown graphically on this link – http://www.techtreme.com/mobile/lg-g2-android-phone-some-special-features-you-need-to-know-about/ I have started thinking about moving to LG G2 as my next phone 🙂